Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008-09 Preview -- Villanova Previews

I wandered over to the magazine stand the other night as I waited for the deli girl to make my sandwhich. I scanned the racks for a 2008-09 season preview...from anyone. I realized I had not looked for a magazine preview in (4? 5?) years. True The Blue Ribbon Yearbook, by sheer dent of the information provided, leaves the competition far behind. And with the debut of their College Basketball Prospectus 2008-09 this month, John Gasaway and Ken Pomeroy simultaneously satisfy my need for numbers and pithy commentary. I pushed aside the Maxims, the Family Circles and Redbooks, looking for an Athlon or a Lindy's or maybe a TSN. My old favorite was Smith and Street. They also provide "total coverage" for D1 teams. Every team, every conference...with a bit of recruiting too. I did manage to find a college football preview or two, but aside from a Slam "preview article" nothing about college basketball. I settled for a Rolling was the internet I decided. I don't hunt relentlessly for these printed copies because I can pre-order my Blue Ribbon (and Basketball Prospectus for that matter) and have them delivered (it felt like Christmas too, they were delivered on the same day). And the plethora of team previews I can find online. As for Villanova team previews, I guess the virtue of being a Top 50 or so team is that everyone wants to write about you. Below are a compilation of 2008-09 previews of the Wildcats:

SportingNews307Mike DeCourcy's preview
Fox Sports196?Jeff Goodman's work.
CHN307Joel Welser's "144..." Preview
Rivals176Bob McClellan, basketball editor
HOOPSWORLD.com175Yannis Koutroupis' preview
CBS Sportsline167Gary Parrish's preview.
Blue Ribbon227Mike Waters, Syracuse beat writer for the Post-Standard

Notes & Observations...
1. True to his roots, Mike DeCourcy slots 4 Big Ten teams (Michigan State, Purdue, Wisci & Ohio State), to go with two arguably appropriate choices -- Marquette and Memphis, and less arguably appropriate Xavier and Creighton. Toss in Ohio River valley perennials Pittsburgh and Louisville. DeCourcy's lack of regard for the super-sized Big East dates back to his column that marked the inauguration of the 16 member conference in 2005. He wrote it was a loser then, and every year he does his best to minimize the conference's standing.

2. Rutger beat writer and long-time follower of Big East basketball Jerry Carino noted his own "Media Day" rankings for his Hoops Heaven Blog last Wednesday. Carino ranks Villanova #4 with the comment "Will be fun to watch". I hope so Jerry.

3. Gary Parrish repeats the same mistake he made last season -- too many BE teams "clustered" in the Top 20. Six teams in the Top 20 (or Top 25) I can believe, but Parrish slots a BE team every 2.3 ranks...

4. Sports New York writer and Big East blogger Adam Zagoria, like Jerry Carino, published his own "Media Day" rankings for his blog, site. Zags ranked Villanova #8. While Zagoria did provide a little commentary (in the form of a self-imposed Q&A...) he provided no explanation (or pithy comments) on his rankings.

5. The Northwestern Wins Blog projects Villanova as #8 in the Big East. They did their research, as evidenced by the lengthy preview.

6. East Coast Bias Blog ranked the 'Cats #7 but wrote "...this is the pick that’s going to bite me in the rear - they could be lower, they could be higher..." and cites a few examples of upside and downside.

7. The Big East site has an official team preview of Villanova too. The Big East coaches' composite poll ranked the Wildcats #5.

8. The NBE Basketball Report Blog ranked Villanova #7 (a somewhat popular spot for many bloggers...) in their annual preview.

9. Link for the Blue Ribbon projection points to an ESPN web page article about a collarboration between Blue Ribbon and EA on EA's 2009 version of their D1 basketball video game. Links to specific Blue Ribbon previews will most likely be subscriber-only available. And rolled out over the next 3 weeks.

10. The consensus ranks Villanova at #6/#7, the outliers go as high as #5 and as low as #8. Which puts the Wildcats in the second quartile, pretty much where I have placed them. I suspect East Coast Bias blogger said what many of the others think (and I put myself in that group) but are afraid to write/say -- the 'Cats are a squad that could go either way -- up a quartile or down a quartile, depending on how the sophomores progress. And whether Drum and Shane stay healthy and contribute. A status quo (with last year) season effort would put the 'Cats back on the bubble, but without the attention-grabbing losses and with a weaker set of SOS-type credentials, Nova may find a less sympathetic Selection Committee in March 2009.

11. Even with a fairly broad consensus on Villanova's Big East standing, I think it's a bit curious the national rankings vary so widely. Modest exceptions noted, the MSM was bi-polar on their attitude on the Big East. Ranking Villanova #16/#17 or #30 had less to do with the analyst's attitude towards the Wildcats and more to do with their attitude towards the Big East.

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